College Admission Essay: Thank You, Dante

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During the first semester, I read the Inferno by Dante, and consequently, the book became the first piece of literature to critically challenge my assumptions. I used to believe Hell was a fiery cave wedged into the earth’s core. The devil dominated a sauna and whipped the sinners with his tail as if they were his circus animals. Hell wasn’t surrounded by delicate clouds and golden rays like Heaven but a turbulent free-for-all with heated rocks and oozing lava. The devil’s home was a mouth, waiting to consume every ounce of human flesh possible. However, when I walked into Ms. Smith’s second period English class, my teacher and Dante suddenly turned my thoughts around. Instead of a spectrum of red, Dante’s imagery in the Inferno painted blankets of darkness and icy tempest storms into my mind. The author wrote of structured levels and reasonable punishments. In addition, the Inferno had one more varying idea: God punished the devil in Hell just as He cast down the other sinners. As a result, our opposing views of Hell wasn’t the overall theme of the novel but the reality that everyone has his or her own opinions, and, thus, we should learn from each other.

In addition to a makeover of Hell, Dante had a clear message: your actions on Earth affect your place in the afterlife. God condemned the sinners because they lost sight of their values. At birth, God grants each person free will, the opportunity to choose Jesus’s path or to stray onto another road. Thus, the Inferno prompted a self-reflection of the choices I am making, especially about college. Ever since the fourth grade, one of my best friends and I planned on going to school in the northeast. However, after a college tour, I realized that the north was not the place for me right now. I was born and raised in the south, so naturally, I am addicted to southern hospitality, warm weather, my mom’s crawfish etouffée, and Parkway Bakery’s fried shrimp poboy. I assumed brisk weather and subways were my future; however this was my best friend’s dream, not mine. Family is important to me, so I want to be close enough to where I can come home more than three times a year. Thus, I felt torn between my friends’, dad’ s, and mom’s plans for me, but once again, Dante intervened and reminded me that I have free will. I needed to stay true to who I am and not allow others to make my decision for me. I have the power to make my own choices and not listen to what everyone else wants but what I want. With my free will, I choose a school that challenges me, a place where people know me by name, and a college that builds character. I found this at Loyola.

Finally, the diversity of the school allows me to challenge my preconceptions, and I have the opportunity to grow in knowledge and as a human being. Learning doesn’t have to end with the classroom’s blackboards but expands past the concrete walls. I will be the student in life’s lessons, and I am the student who will continue learning for the rest of her life, whether it be through literature or involvement in the community. So thank you, Dante. You’ve opened my eyes to new opportunities and allowed me to exercise my choice, my free will.





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